mas·​sa·​cre | \ ˈma-si-kər How to pronounce massacre (audio) \

Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : the act or an instance of killing a number of usually helpless or unresisting human beings under circumstances of atrocity or cruelty witnessed the massacre of a boatload of refugees
2 : a cruel or wanton (see wanton entry 1 sense 1a) murder
3 : a wholesale slaughter of animals Residents engaged in a citywide cat massacre.
4 : an act of complete destruction the author's massacre of traditional federalist presuppositions— R. G. McCloskey the Puritan massacre of statues and pictures— Robert Hughes


massacred; massacring\ ˈma-​si-​k(ə-​)riŋ How to pronounce massacring (audio) \

Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to kill by massacre
2 : mangle sense 2 words were misspelled and syntax massacred— Bice Clemow

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Other Words from massacre


massacrer \ ˈma-​si-​kər-​ər How to pronounce massacrer (audio) , -​krər \ noun

Synonyms for massacre

Synonyms: Noun

bloodbath, butchery, carnage, death, holocaust, slaughter

Synonyms: Verb

butcher, mow (down), slaughter

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Examples of massacre in a Sentence


The game turned out to be a complete massacre. the infamous massacre of more than 200 Sioux at Wounded Knee, South Dakota


Hundreds have been massacred in the uprising. The other team really massacred us on Saturday. He really massacred that song.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Four months after the massacre, a raft of gun control measures failed in Congress. Anchorage Daily News, "The Newtown school massacre divided NRA leaders, foreshadowing the split to come," 5 July 2019 Despite fears of another massacre, the crowds were still large. The Economist, "Protesters are back on the streets in Sudan," 4 July 2019 In the wake of the shooting at a Parkland, Florida, high school and other massacres, US schools are increasingly receptive to such pitches. Klint Finley, WIRED, "A Device to Detect 'Aggression' in Schools Often Misfires," 25 June 2019 Guerrillas had either already taken over the state, as in Cuba and Nicaragua, or were overwhelmed by murderous state repression, forced disappearances, and massacres, as in the dirty wars of Argentina, Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, and elsewhere. Rachel Nolan, Harper's magazine, "A Jagged Scrap of History," 24 June 2019 In his proclamation about the commemoration of the Pulse massacre, the Governor of the state of Florida neglected to mention the LGBTQ community at all. Rod Stafford Hagwood,, "Gay choruses in Miami and Fort Lauderdale share stage for 50th anniversary of Stonewall," 18 June 2019 Three days after the attacks, New Zealand’s chief censor ruled that possessing or sharing footage of the massacre, which the gunman appeared to have broadcast on Facebook, was against the law. Charlotte Graham-mclay,, "New Zealand man gets 21 months for sharing video of Christchurch attacks," 18 June 2019 Eighty survivors of the massacre, some injured, and their families attended the hearing. The Washington Post, The Mercury News, "Suspect in New Zealand massacre pleads not guilty," 13 June 2019 Other massacres like the ones in Orlando, Las Vegas, and Virginia Tech. Jenny Hollander, Marie Claire, "Do I Have to Vote? Here Are Some of the Scary Things That Could Happen If You Don't," 6 Nov. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

These included 56 migrants who were massacred by his men in 2005. The Economist, "A former beauty queen accuses Gambia’s former dictator of rape," 27 June 2019 On August 14, 2013, security forces in Cairo massacred as many as a thousand Morsi supporters, the vast majority of whom were unarmed. Peter Hessler, The New Yorker, "Mohamed Morsi, Who Brought the Muslim Brotherhood to the Egyptian Presidency," 19 June 2019 In March, Iraq and the U.N. began exhuming graves in the village of Kocho, where Islamic State militants are believed to have massacred hundreds of Yazidis in August 2014. Washington Post, "Iraq begins examining Yazidi mass graves remains," 10 June 2019 The Mariners massacred a mishmash of middle relievers, scoring 12 times in their final three innings to annihilate the Astros 14-1 at T-Mobile Park. Chandler Rome, Houston Chronicle, "Astros suffer embarrassing blowout loss to Mariners," 6 June 2019 With thousands of civilians still being massacred every year in the war against the Taliban, Masood decided to flee to Germany. Matthew Wolfe, Harper's magazine, "Without a Trace," 10 Feb. 2019 Unbowed and unbroken, the widow had his assassins and their families massacred in retaliation. National Geographic, "This Renaissance warrior woman defied powerful popes to defend her lands," 15 Mar. 2019 The bleak history of safe havens in Bosnia, where civilians seeking safety were massacred while UN soldiers looked away, made their utility suspect. Charles Glass, Harper's magazine, "“Tell Me How This Ends”," 10 Feb. 2019 June 4, 1989, was a seminal day for China’s faithful, as the Chinese government massacred thousands of pro-democracy demonstrators in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square. Nina Shea And Bob Fu, WSJ, "Inside China’s War on Christians," 30 May 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'massacre.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of massacre


circa 1578, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for massacre

Noun and Verb

Middle French

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Statistics for massacre

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for massacre

The first known use of massacre was circa 1578

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More Definitions for massacre



English Language Learners Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the violent killing of many people
informal : a game or competition in which one person or team easily defeats another



English Language Learners Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

: to violently kill (a group of people)
informal : to easily defeat (someone or something)
: to do (something) very badly : to ruin (something) because of lack of skill


mas·​sa·​cre | \ ˈma-sə-kər How to pronounce massacre (audio) \

Kids Definition of massacre

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the violent and cruel killing of a large number of people


massacred; massacring

Kids Definition of massacre (Entry 2 of 2)

: to kill a large number of people in a violent and cruel manner

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More from Merriam-Webster on massacre

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for massacre

Spanish Central: Translation of massacre

Nglish: Translation of massacre for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of massacre for Arabic Speakers

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